Twenty-four bands, eight nights rocked, and one semifinal postponed because of mayhem in the streets, and the 2013 Rock ’n’ Roll Rumble is finally drawing to a close. The 34th installment of the battle of the bands, now sponsored by WZLX, draws from the best of New England’s rock talent. It will conclude Friday night at T.T. the Bear’s.
The preliminary and semifinal rounds saw some predictably captivating sets from up-and-coming contenders, like the abrasive, noise-psych of New Highway Hymnal, and the high-octane, earnest guitar pop of the Field Effect, but the judges have spoken, and only three acts remain: Glenn Yoder & the Western States, Eddie Japan, and Twin Berlin. We spoke to the finalists about their origins, their most memorable Rumble moments, and, since competitve rocking is often hard to quantify, sized them up for how they’d fare in an actual rumble.
2013 Rock 'n' Roll Rumble finals, Twin Berlin, Eddie Japan
Glenn Yoder & the Western States
Glenn Yoder: vocals, guitar; Jeff Katz: guitar, vocals; Cilla Bonnie: bass, vocals; Chris Anzalone: drums; Brooks Milgate: keyboards.
This isn’t Yoder’s first Rumble rodeo. The arts producer for Boston.com competed with his old band Cassavettes in 2007. After that band broke up he began playing as a solo artist, and enlisted Katz (also of Three Day Threshold and former Rumble winners Girls Guns and Glory). The rest of the band, which released its alt-country and bluesy debut album, “Javelina,” in January, are all relatively new, playing their first show together in December. Glenn Yoder & the Western States made it into the semifinals as a wild card.
Listen to: “Just Want You to Love Me” is “definitely the most single-worthy,” Yoder says. “It’s all hooks, big chorus, appropriate length — and it’s memorable.”
Band they’re surprised they beat to make it here: “I thought White Dynomite was insanely awesome, really heavy rock riffage and stuff. That’s what you go to the Rumble for. Plus Lifestyle are so good at what they do. New Highway Hymnal and White Dynomite were the two front-runners from the beginning of this thing, and Twin Berlin.”
Favorite Boston song ever: “I moved up here [from Dallas] in large part because two bands I idolized growing up were from here, the Lemonheads and Karate,” Yoder says. “Since moving here, I gained a lot of appreciation for Morphine. . . . Their record ‘Like Swimming’ is one of the best albums of the last 25 years now.”
Memorable Rumble moment: “It’s not particularly a happy memory, but our night was the night all hell broke loose in Cambridge. Win or lose, I think I’ll never forget that night. It was so eerie and strange.”
Rumbling skills: “I’m probably the tallest, about 6 feet, 6-foot-1 with boots on. Jeff’s about the same size. He’s a wee bit heavier than me. Anzalone, our drummer, is a little tiny guy, he’s 5-foot-2. I’m probably pretty wimpy. Chris and Cilla are the two tough people. I could see them mixing it up. He’s short but he’s muscular. Cilla is more of a dude than I am.”
Chris Barrett: trumpet, keyboards; Eric Brosius: guitar; Bart LoPiccolo: guitar; Chuck Ferreira: drums; Chuck Membrino: bass; David Santos: lead vocals
The sprawling band, formed in 2007, is big enough on its own; that’s before you add in the strings and backup singers. Their recent release, a five-song EP called “Modern Desperation, Part 1” is influenced by ’60s outsider pop, with elements of folk and American songbook standards. “Kind of ’60s cinematic, Melancholic Pop Classicists?” Santos offers as a genre catchall. Many of the members have been through the Rumble before: Brosius with Tribe in 1998, LoPiccolo with Scatterfield in 1990, and Barrett with Logan 5 and the Runners in 2009.
Listen to: “‘A Town Called Nowhere’ is the one that’s jumped out from the EP. It has a very big personality, and it describes our sound best,” Santos says. “It’s got a very iconic trumpet line, there’s a string section on it, it’s a big production, and it seems to be the one people are jumping to.”
Band they’re surprised they beat to make it here: “I think the band we’re actually playing against Friday, Glenn Yoder. As I was watching him that first night in the preliminaries, I thought he played a great set. I thought he was the guy that night. He’s pretty great.”
Favorite Boston song ever: “I think the big classic for me of the last few years is ‘Tornado’ by Sidewalk Driver."
Memorable Rumble moment: “Generally the whole experience has been great. Just the support from everybody involved has been very very pleasing, from the people who work at T.T.’s to the stage managers to [organizers] Anngelle Wood and Richard Bouchard. Really, I guess the biggest one, to put a finer point on it, has been the response of the crowd on the nights we played.”
Rumbling skills: “Our bruising drummer Chuck Ferreira,” is the biggest, Santos says. “He’s probably 6 feet, and you wouldn’t want to take a punch from him, let’s put it that way. Very solid guy.” As for rumbling potential? “Well, there are six of us, and with backup singers, and the string quartet, there’s 11 of us. And those women are fierce, so I think we definitely have the numbers.”
Matt Lopez: guitar, vocals; James Janocha: drums; Sean O’Neil: bass; Tim Taylor: guitar
While the spiky, garage-punk band formed in 2009, the current lineup solidified about six months ago. The young band — who snagged the coveted wild-card spot in the finals — have seen some national attention from the likes of MTV, and seem like a contender for making the jump to the next level. Their three-song EP, “There Goes My Virtue,” was produced by Travis Barker of Blink-182. “It’s garage rock, with a punk vibe in there. A lot of times we liken it to garage punk. Like the Strokes, but heavy,” Janocha says.
Listen to: “We always direct people to ‘Can’t Take, Take, Take.’ That’s the single that got Travis’s attention, and the first one we recorded with him.”
Band they’re surprised they beat to make it here: “On Thursday night, after we saw the New Highway Hymnal set, we kind of thought they might take it. Being the wild card after that, they put on a pretty good show, we were kind of surprised when we beat them.”
Favorite Boston song ever: “I mean I guess we all went trough a Piebald phase at some point. The Lemonheads . . . you can kind of take anything from those guys.”
Memorable Rumble moment: “It’s kind of weird, I don’t think anything too crazy has happened this year. Definitely Eddie Japan’s sets with the sheer amount of people he gets up there is crazy to watch.”
Rumbling skills: “I used to be in shape. I think I’m the only one who does any sports anymore. I do a pickup hockey league. Last time I ran with Matt, [he made it two blocks] and he was done,” Janocha says of the band’s fitness. Fighting-wise, he says, “it depends on how many beers I’ve had.” Lopez actually had a box cutter pulled on him outside the Rumble on their first night. “Some really drunk guy. I don’t know why he did it. I don’t think any of us have been in a fight for a while though. . . . We’re pretty small, we’d probably get taken.”